Beijing mulls plan for Hong Kong schools in Shenzhen

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 4:00am

The Ministry of Education will consider whether to let the Hong Kong government set up primary schools in neighbouring Shenzhen in a bid to ease tension created by mainlanders enrolling their children in local schools.

The ministry pledged last month to think about the suggestion, raised by Michael Tien Puk-sun, a Hong Kong delegate to the National People's Congress.

The ministry said it would conduct feasibility studies into the idea. If it was found to be feasible, the ministry would seek a consensus to pursue the idea.

There would then need to be talks between Hong Kong's Education Bureau and its counterparts at the provincial level and in Shenzhen.

Such schools would be categorised as "schools for foreigners' children" under the Shenzhen system.

Tien came up with the idea to ease pressure on local schools as mainlanders sought local tuition for their children born in Hong Kong in previous years. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has put a stop to the Hong Kong births, banning all local hospitals from taking maternity ward bookings from mainlanders.

This year, new local pupils living in the North District - which is closest to the border - were allocated to Tai Po primary schools.

The bureau later pledged a "one-off" policy to place them in schools nearer their homes.

Tien said the ministry response was "helpful".

"As for the Hong Kong government, it is still considering the proposal," he said. "One thing it fears is the future decline in the number of such children [following the zero quota on hospitals]."

The bureau said: "The suggestion [involves] a complex topic and has deep-seated impact, so we must study it in great detail and with careful consideration."

Tien suggested that an easier option would be for Shenzhen to consider allowing Hongkongers to set up private schools, where Hongkongers would do the teaching.

"I believe this can be achieved within a year with policy co-operation, whereas it could take up to five years for the Hong Kong government to run public schools on the other side," he said.